By now, we’ve all seen it. A really dumb parent put her young child
on a rail overlooking the enclosure for Harambe the Gorilla at the Cincinnati
Zoo. Truth is, it could have Cincinnati, Phoenix, or any other major city
where this happened. No matter the city, parents who take their kids to
the zoo often forget that they are visiting wild animals that are being
kept in captivity for their viewing pleasure.
When the child fell into the enclosure, Harambe threw the child around
like a rag doll. Did he see the child as a toy or a foe? It really didn’t
matter as either way, the child was going to get hurt, if not killed.
Zoo personnel made the decision that Harambe had to be put down for his
crimes before it was too late.
Did Harmabe Commit a Crime (Assuming he was human, of course)?
Clearly, none of this was intentional. Gorillas are wild animals and they
play rough. But let’s say, for the moment, that Harambe was not
a 400 pound Gorilla and that he was a human being. What could he be charged with?
There Is No Such Crime as Attempted Reckless Murder
An attempt to commit a crime requires a knowing and intentional effort
to engage in a substantial step toward the commission of a crime. A reckless
act, on the other hand, does not involve a deliberate action, but rather,
a conscious disregard of a known risk. So the bottom line is that Harambe
could not have intentionally tried to commit an unintentional act. It’s
so simple that even a gorilla can figure that one out.
Child Abuse Does Not Have to Be Intentional
Under Arizona law, one can commit the crime of child abuse by recklessly
placing the health, safety, or life of a minor in danger. The degree of
potential injury dictates the seriousness and the potential penalty of
the child abuse charge. Child abuse need not be intentional in Arizona,
and instead can be committed by either recklessness or even criminal negligence.
So while I could have walked Harambe on the attempted murder charge, defending
him on a child abuse charge would have been as slippery as a banana peel.
We all saw in the video how the child could have been serious injured,
if not killed, when Harambe got ahold of him. Sadly, all that needed to
happen was for the child’s skull to smash into a concrete wall for
Harambe to have
murdered him, even if just by recklessness. That charge, though, would likely be a
manslaughter offense, and not murder.
The Consequences of a Child Abuse Charge Can Look Like a 400 LB. Gorilla
The potential penalties for child abuse charges are serious in that they
can involve prison terms, lifetime probation, let alone the loss of one’s
parental rights. And while
Jason Lamm does
not represent clients in DCS / CPS matters, he has represented dozens of clients
charged with child abuse over the last three decades – many who
have been falsely accused. By assembling a team of investigators and experts,
Jason is able to provide his clients the best representation for his clients
who are charged with child abuse and other violent crimes such as
aggravated assault and attempted murder.
If you or someone you love is facing serious felony charges,
contact Jason Lamm at (602) 663-9100 to set up a personal and confidential consultation.